The “F” Word in Its Israeli Context

There is a debate in Israel about whether the Zionist state is on the slippery slope to fascism or is already fascist. As far as I am aware the mainstream Western media has not drawn any attention to this.

It was Albert Einstein, the father of modern physics, who, along with 27 other most influential Jews, first warned of the danger of the rise of fascism in Israel. In a letter to the Editor of the New York Times published on 4 December 1948, when Menachem Begin was soliciting support in America, they said this:

Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.

The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin’s political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.

Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Begin’s behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement. The public avowals of Begin’s party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future.

More than six decades on, under the headline Weimar in Jerusalem: The rise of fascism in Israel, Uri Avnery wrote: “Throughout the years, we were careful not to mention the word fascism in public discourse. It raises memories which are too monstrous. Now this taboo has been broken.”

Avnery recalled that Yitzhak Herzog, the minister of welfare in the Netanyahu government, a member of the Labour party, the grandson of a chief rabbi and the son of a president, had said a few days previously that “fascism is touching the margins of our society”. He was wrong, Avnery declared. “Fascism is not only touching the margins, it is touching the government in which he is serving, and the Knesset, of which he is a member.”

Einstein-like, Avnery warned that “fascism will overwhelm Israel” unless progressive forces “awake from the coma, understand what is happening and where it is leading to.”

On 3 September, under the Ha’aretz headline “Fascism is already here“, Yossi Sarid wrote that “Israeli democracy is mainly for decoration, like a tree grown for its beauty, not to bear fruit.”

Sarid asked what a citizen could do when his or her soul “is fed up with occupation.” And this was his answer:

If he participates in the popular struggle against the separation fence, he will be buried outside the fence of the cemetery; if he demonstrates in Sheikh Jarrah, he will feel the heavy hand of the police; if he is a university lecturer, they’ll send the watchdogs after him in the name of Zionism; if he belongs to a theatre troupe, someone who can still see the Green Line in his mind’s eye, they will threaten the source of his income; if he is a school principal who tries not just to support settlements, they will look for a different institution for him because that is not how we do things; if he is a judge who dares deny that security is of the utmost importance, they will blame him for bloodshed; if he is a journalist who refuses to join in the chorus, there will be cries to boycott his newspaper; if he is a citizen who wishes to protect a child being threatened with expulsion from the country, he too will be blacklisted as an enemy of the people; and a long list remains.

In a special investigation for Ynetnews on 21 October, Uri Misgav reported that “experts were divided on whether nationalistic trends in Israel were tantamount to fascism.”

He pointed out that over the years leftist demonstrators had chanted “Fascism won’t pass!” but the Left, he added, “keeps on declining, while fascism is increasingly gaining a foothold here. Significant parts of the Jewish public endorse blatant nationalistic and fascist principles, as shown by the Yedioth Ahronoth and Dr. Mina Tzemach poll published last week, including limited freedom of expression and association as well as limiting voting rights to Jews only.”

As Misgav noted, there are scholars who are warning against using the term “fascism” too lightly and cheapening it. Tel Aviv University Professor, Yossi Shain. was quoted as saying, “The question is whether a threat to democracy exists.”

Among those who think there is such a threat were several hundred youth group members who held rallies across Israel to condemn the government’s loyalty oath decision as racist and anti-democratic. This was after actors and authors had protested in Tel Aviv, read out the Declaration of Independence and published a new document entitled “Declaration of Independence from Fascism.”

One of that protest’s initiators, author and journalist, Sefi Rachlevsky, said: “This successful and miserable people, which experienced persecution and a holocaust, deserves independence, democracy and a life free of fascism. The real struggle today is not between leftists and rightists, but rather, between democrats and fascists.”

Misgav also noted that some religious figures are losing sleep over the latest trends. He quoted Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman as saying:

We saw the emergence of a new Jew in Israel; this does not include Lieberman alone, but rather, anyone who voted for the loyalty oath law, including religious parties. This Jew is no longer interested in religion or in Jewish values, but rather, uses his Jewishness to produce hatred and nationalism. The discourse around the loyalty oath gives rise to a corrupt situation: Instead of Judaism being used to criticize nationalism… it turns into a means that leads to fascism.

As Einstein observed all those years ago, the American public “must” be informed about what is really happening in Israel. But there’s no chance that it will be as long as the mainstream media is unwilling to give voice to those Israeli Jews who can see fascism coming.

Alan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and globally as a researcher, author, and a correspondent for ITN and the BBC. Read other articles by Alan, or visit Alan's website.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. mary said on November 12th, 2010 at 9:54am #

    Off the topic of Mr Hart’s article but I hope you will permit me to post this link as it concerns the heritage of the Palestinian people.

    During Al Nakba, 60,000 precious Palestinian books and manuscripts were looted by the Zionists. This describes the plan of the organizers.

    Build a virtual library for the 60.000 stolen books

    Find the books’ legal heirs.

    Mobilise legal action
    Podcast stolen literature and poetry

    Raise funds for the project in general, documentation and outreach programmes in particular, and especially for turning this website into a genuine interactive site with streaming video, audio, database and much more

    Organise exhibitions around the looted books and reprint some of them as an act of cultural renewal

    The website will become an interactive repository, allowing visitors to upload information to it and rearrange the information on it according to their needs. People will be able to create narratives of this event according to date, location, specific family library or any other criteria they choose.

    This is a major undertaking that in time will evolve into more than online activity. We imagine collaboration between academics, researchers, and grass roots groups with the aim of documenting a destroyed culture.

  2. Ismail Zayid said on November 12th, 2010 at 10:58am #

    Albert Einstein, and the co-authors of the 1948 letter, anticipated accurately the impending onset of fascism in the newly created state od Israel. Uri Avnery and Yossi Sarid, amongst many other prominent Israelis, confirm accuraely the existing fascist racist policies practiced in the state of Israel, and as Yossi Sarid confirms: ” Fasicm is already here [in Israel]”. However, the public are not allowed to see the facts for what they are.

  3. Rehmat said on November 12th, 2010 at 3:13pm #

    “F” word is considered slf-hating Jewish while the word “J” is labeled as Hate Crime in the US, Canada and Europe.

    Israel being a ‘Fascist state’ is not questionable. One just has to study its establishment from some objective source. Some of earlier Jewish terrorist groups fought along with Nazis and Italian fascist regime.

    Albert Einstein was a Zionist Jew, however, during last years of his life – he showed his dislike of Zionism.

  4. jayn0t said on November 12th, 2010 at 4:09pm #

    Talk of Israel ‘becoming fascist’ implies that itscurrent state is better than fascism, that Jewish racists are better than white racists, and we should worry about the former becoming as bad as the latter. It implies that recent massacres were worse than the Deir Yassin massacre of 1948. People still use the argument that apartheid Israel cooperated with apartheid South Africa as a way of criticising Israel, but never the other way round, as if Jewish apartheid is tainted by association with white apartheid. Lenni Brenner wrote a book complaining about Zionists collaborating with the Nazis: why not the other way round?

  5. mary said on November 14th, 2010 at 8:59am #

    Just came across this. The lobby is embedded in the UN. Today I heard of a deal offered to Netanyahu whereby a 90 day settlement freeze will give immunity in the UN for their Cast Lead war crimes. Outrageous. Another sell out for the Palestinians is approaching which I hope Abbas has just about enough honour to reject.

    UN Watch is a Geneva-based front for the American Jewish Committee [1]to pressure United Nations against taking a critical stance on Israel. UN Watch claims to have ‘complete independence’ from the AJC.[2], but it is perfectly clear from a press release on the AJC website that this is false.
    Defending Israel

    UN Watch claims in its Mission statement to simply “monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter.”[6]It claims that its main focus is not Israel:

    We primarily speak against gross human rights violations all around the world, including Darfur, Zimbabwe, Russia etc. You can get any idea by browsing our website. In parallel, part of our work is to combat anti-Israel bias within the UN system, which we believe hampers its ability to effectively respond to urgent human rights situations around the world.[7]

    However its true agenda is betrayed by the following section in its Mission Statement.

    UN Watch notes that the disproportionate attention and unfair treatment applied by the UN toward Israel over the years offers an object lesson (though not the only one) in how due process, equal treatment, and other fundamental principles of the UN Charter are often ignored or selectively upheld. (emphasis added)[8]

    No other country or struggle or issue is specifically identified. From this, the known politics of its parent organization, the American Jewish Committee, and its earlier dissembling with regards to its affiliations one can safely conclude its role as lobby group for pro-Israel interest in Geneva.[9].

    According to Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch:

    One of the greatest violators of the UN Charter’s equality guarantee has been the UN Commission on Human Rights…

    An alien observing the United Nations’ debates, reading its resolutions, and walking its halls would conclude that a principal purpose of the world body is to censure a tiny country called Israel…The UN’s advocacy for the Palestinians is more often than not a way of targeting Israel.[13]**


  6. mary said on November 14th, 2010 at 11:46am #

    Israel ponders US incentive offer on settlement freeze

  7. mary said on November 15th, 2010 at 1:50am #

    I omitted the 25 stealth jets as part of the Obama/Clinton bribe to Netanyahu.

    ‘The U.S. is desperately trying to revive the stalled Middle East peace talks, by enticing Israel to extend its construction moratorium in occupied Palestinian territories. Washington’s put 20 stealth fighter jets worth $3 billion on the table – and a pledge to fight any international resolutions against Israel. In exchange, it wants Israel to halt construction in the West Bank for three months, with a U.S. promise not to ask to prolong it further. Palestinians are criticising the plan, saying the proposed freeze will not apply to East Jerusalem.’